TORONTO, March 17 -- Pharmacare: Cost Neutral for Canadian Government
A study released this week in the CMAJ provides ground-breaking evidence that Canadian governments could bring prescription drugs under Medicare at no additional cost. This paper, a collaborative effort of researchers at the University of British Columbia and the University of Toronto, reports that a national pharmacare plan could potentially result in $7.3 billion in savings and a 32% reduction in total spending on medicines.
“This new research contributes to a growing body of evidence demonstrating that pharmacare is a sound policy, economically and socially," explains Dr. Ryan Meili, vice chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare.
Not only is national pharmacare economically sound, but researchers argue that it is a necessary addition to Canada’s Medicare system. Prescription drug coverage in Canada currently exists as a patchwork of both public and private plans, often resulting in gaps in coverage. This has created significant barriers, particularly for individuals whose incomes are not low enough to qualify for government coverage but who do not receive coverage through work. As employment in the service economy and the creation of temporary or contract jobs increases, more Canadians are finding themselves without comprehensive drug coverage. Between 3 and 6 million Canadians are estimated to be unable to afford prescription medications. The inability of Canadians to access necessary medicines impacts their health, while increasing strain on emergency health care services.
“Canada is the only Western nation with a universal health care plan that does not include drug coverage,” says Meili. “Through the bulk buying and price negotiations that pharmacare allows, our European counterparts dedicate less of their health care budgets to and spend far less out-of-pocket on prescription medications.”
Public and professional support among Canadian physicians continues to grow for national pharmacare. A recent EKOS poll revealed that 78% of Canadians are in support of a universal drug plan.
“Reviewing the evidence presented by this study and responding to the groundswell of popular support for pharmacare would allow Canadian politicians to implement a national health care policy that is economically sound and incredibly beneficial. It’s time for our federal government to respond to these growing calls for a national pharmacare strategy. This is a vital opportunity to improve our health care system."
To learn more about the need for a pharmacare plan for Canada, please review our Pharmacare & Canada backgrounder.
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Canadian Doctors for Medicare